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If you pay even the tiniest bit of attention to exercise news and trends, then you’ve certainly encountered the term “high-intensity interval training” (HIIT) in the past half-decade. However, you might not quite know what it means, what it entails, and why it’s one of the hottest new ways to exercise. Here’s everything you need to know about what HIIT is and who should — and shouldn’t — do it.
So, what is HIIT?
HIIT is pronounced the exact way you would say the word “hit,” and HIIT workouts do hit really, really hard. During a HIIT workout, you’ll alternate between brief bursts of near-maximum physical activity and even briefer periods of complete rest. When you do a HIIT workout, you’re supposed to hit 90 percent of your maximum energy capacity.
Who can do HIIT?
Since HIIT is based on the notion of hitting that 90 percent maximum, anyone who’s aware of their physical limits can do it. You can use a health metric known as the rate of perceived extortion scale to figure out your limits and get started with HIIT. HIIT classes rely on this metric to group people of similar physical abilities together and keep all participants on the same line toward peak fitness.
What happens during a HIIT workout?
A HIIT workout doesn’t represent any particular set of exercises. Instead, it symbolizes a regimen — intensely on, then off, in brief spurts. Thus, you can find HIIT workouts in running, cycling, and even swimming, not to mention anaerobic exercises. No matter your activity, you’ll want to stick to the magic two-to-one work to rest ratio. For example, if you’re doing a HIIT run, you’ll want to sprint for a certain brief amount of time, then walk for half that amount of time, and then repeat the cycle five to 10 times more.
Is there a leading kind of HIIT workout?
Perhaps the most popular form of the HIIT workout is known as the Tabata Protocol. This cardio workout entails five minutes of warming up, a mere four minutes of HIIT cardio exercises, and two minutes of cool-down. During the four-minute HIIT period, you’ll be on for 20 seconds, off for 10, then repeat this cycle seven more times.
What’s the science behind HIIT?
HIIT is said to be a miracle of efficiency. Because HIIT workouts require you to work to your maximum potential in short periods, they burn calories rapidly, in far shorter times than traditional exercise methods do. This same on-off cycle drives afterburn, the phenomenon in which calorie burning continues far after a workout. Outside pure physical fitness, regular HIIT workouts have also been correlated to increased cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity, not to mention a healthier cholesterol profile.
Where can I do HIIT?
You can easily apply the two-to-one ratio to your next run or bike ride. Additionally, many gyms offer HIIT classes, which rarely exceed half an hour due to their serious intensity.
Are you a HIIT fan? What are some other workouts you do regularly? Share your thoughts in the comments!